A new batch of Syrian pilgrims arrived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the early morning hours of Tuesday. The Syrian Coalition’s Supreme Hajj Committee said that it had received the new batch of intending pilgrims and took them to their places of residence. It is expected that the last batch will arrive on Wednesday.
The latest batch has brought to about 19,000 the number of intending Syrian pilgrims who have arrived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under the supervision of the Syrian Coalition’s Supreme Hajj Committee.
The Committee has taken on the supervision of Syrian hajj since 2013. It receives application for hajj in the offices it opened in eight countries in addition to two other offices in the liberated areas inside Syria.
The Committee has set up three offices - medical, religious and administrative offices. Each season, the Committee draws up plans to receive pilgrims from various places in Syria and the host countries and move them to their places of residence and then to Arafat and Mina.
There are also a number of supporting teams that assist the Committee in carrying out its tasks under the supervision of one of the administrators. The Committee is composed of around 90 staff members who comprise administrators and employees.
The Syrian mission received the respect and appreciation from all other missions in the last year’s hajj season owing to the effective organization and discipline shown by the Syrian pilgrims.
Secretary General of the Syrian Coalition Nazir al-Hakim extended his thanks and appreciation for the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Saudi Government for their efforts to provide care and services for pilgrims as well as to cater for their needs in order to perform the hajj rituals smoothly and with ease.
Al-Hakim also thanked the Turkish government for facilitating the work of the Committee and for allowing Syrians to enter Turkish territory and then travel to the Kingdom to perform Hajj without the need for an entry visa to Turkey. He also thanked neighboring countries for facilitating the departure of intending Syrian refugees from their territories. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Assad forces have further stepped up the bombing campaign on Idlib province. Activists said that the bombings were renewed on Monday morning, killing a girl and two women and wounding six other civilians.
The Syrian Civil Defense in Idlib said that its volunteers rushed to rescue victims of the shelling with heavy artillery that targeted the towns of Al-Tih and Tahtaya, adding that cluster bombs were used in the shelling.
On Friday, dozens of airstrikes and barrel bomb attacks targeted many villages and towns in Idlib, Aleppo and Hama provinces, killing eight people. Idlib has became overcrowded especially following the mass forced displacement and demographic change operations that the Assad regime forces carried out in many parts of Syria backed by its Russian ally and the Iranian terrorist militias.
An estimated four million people currently live in Idlib province, according to Emergency Response Coordinators in northern Syrian. About half of the population is forcibly displaced, of whom nearly 800,000 live in unofficial camps and suffer dire humanitarian conditions.
The Syrian Coalition last week called upon the international community to hold accountable perpetrators of war crimes in Syria and to stop the bloodletting in the country. It condemned the policies being pursued by the Assad regime and its Russian ally which are aimed at the mass forced displacement of Syrian civilians and bringing about demographic change in the region.
The Coalition warned the international community of the dire consequences of giving the Assad regime, Russia and the Iranian militias a free hand against civilians in Syria. It called for an urgent international intervention to put an end to these attacks and stop the ongoing crimes and repeated violations of international resolutions and cease-fire agreements. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition condemned the aerial bombardment that the Assad regime and Russia carried out in rural Idlib, Aleppo and Hama on Friday as it blamed Moscow full responsibility.
Activists confirmed that the bombardment, which involved the use of the white phosphorus, killed at least eight civilians and injured many others as well as caused massive destruction to residential buildings.
The Coalition warned the international community of the dire consequences of giving the Assad regime, Russia and the Iranian militias a free hand against civilians in Idlib, Hama and Aleppo. It also warned of the danger of exploiting the blood and lives of civilians on the political solution.
“Recent developments require urgent international intervention to put an end to these heinous attacks and the ongoing crimes and violations of the international resolutions on cease-fire and the ‘de-escalation zones’ agreements. The fate of hundreds of thousands of civilians is in serious danger as the consequences of these terrorist attacks will be unprecedented.”
The Syrian Coalition called upon the UN Security Council to take immediate action and adopt a resolution directed at Russia to condemn its crimes against the Syrian people. “Appropriate measures needs to urgently taken to put an end to the war crimes Russia is committing, sponsoring or seeking to cover up, including the crimes involving the use of chemical weapons.”
It also called upon the UN Security Council to ensure accountability for the crimes Russia, the Assad regime, and the Iranian militias are committing against Syrian civilians as well as for everyone who is responsible for crimes against the Syrian people. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
A new batch of Syrian pilgrims arrived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Friday as the Syrian Coalition’s Supreme Hajj Committee said that it received more than 8,000 intending Syrian pilgrims who came from Syria and other countries.
Secretary-General of the Coalition Nazir al-Hakim said that the Committee was able to increase Syria’s quote of pilgrims for this year after communicating with the Ministry of Hajj in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The quota was increased to more than 19,000 pilgrims, he said, stressing that staff of the Committee stands ready to receive pilgrims as it did in the past five years and seeks to appear as one of the best regulatory committees.
Al-Hakim thanked the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the care and service they are providing to the pilgrims and for facilitating their affairs and meeting all their needs to perform the hajj rituals smoothly and with ease.
Al-Hakim also thanked the Turkish government for facilitating the work of the Committee and for allowing Syrians to enter Turkish territory and then travel to the Kingdom to perform Hajj without the need for an entry visa to Turkey. He also thanked neighboring countries for facilitating the departure of intending Syrian refugees from their territories.
Al-Hakim pointed out that the Committee provides all services and facilitations for intending Syrian pilgrims from the moment they obtain visas for hajj until they arrive in the holy land. The staff of the administrative, medical and service sub-committees take care of Syrian refugees during their stay in the Kingdom. He stressed that that Committee is committed to catering for all Syrian pilgrims without any exceptions.
The Committee has opened several offices in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and northern Syria as well as branch offices in the UAE, Qatar, and Kuwait. The offices provide services to Syrian pilgrims and manage their affairs while performing hajj. (Source: Syrian Coalitions’ Media Department)
An official in the Syrian Coalition stressed that the violations being committed by the Assad regime against civilians in the areas that saw the imposition of forced so-called ‘reconciliation’ deals confirmed the falsity of the Russian allegations about providing guarantees to the Syrian opposition and refugees to return to the country.
Secretary of the Coalition’s political committee Riad al-Hassan said that the Assad regime’s repeated violations against civilians in the areas which recently fell under its control have revealed the dark side of the Russia role in Syria. These atrocities cast serious doubts about Russia’s ability to rein in the Assad regime forces and their allied foreign militias.
“The Syrian people have bad experiences with the Assad regime which betrayed all the pledges it made and took revenge against its opponents. No one has confidence in the Assad regime. Since its military intervention in Syria, Moscow has been trying to convince the international community that it is in control of the situation in the country,” Hassan said.
Hassan went on to say that “the Assad regime is procrastinating and seeking to gain more time. The regime will also reject all Russian demands in the future, which could lead to the total collapse of the political process and expose the lives of millions of Syrians to the danger of death, torture and detention.”
According to Smart News Network, the Assad regime arrested five young people in the town of Ghanto in northern rural Homs on Wednesday, a few days after regime forces executed military doctor Mu'taz Hteitani who existed eastern Ghouta via one of the so-called “safe passages” that Russian offered to civilians trapped inside the Damascus suburb.
Similar arrests targeted dozens of young people in the town of Da'al and al-Lajat area in rural Dara’a. Regime forces also looted civilian homes in rural Dara’a as residents of the province expressed for of reprisals by the Assad regime. (Source: Syrian Coalitions’ Media Department)
President of the Syrian Coalition Abdurrahman Mustafa called on the European Union to resist Russian plans to have Syrian refugees repatriated before a political transition is achieved. He underscored the need to create a safe, appropriate environment for the return of Syrian refugees at first.
At a meeting with EU representative Lara Scarpetta, Mustafa said that "there can be no separation between political solution, the return of refugees, and reconstruction,” stressing that these issues cannot be addressed separately. He stressed need to provide "legal guarantees for refugees and ensure the participation of the United Nations and relevant organizations in any plans for the return of Syrian refugees.”
Mustafa pointed out that the issue of the return of refugees does not only include logistical or financial aspects, stressing the importance of adequately addressing the Assad regime’s violations of human rights and the issue of reconstruction in particular.
"The European Union must not support Russia’s plans for the return of refugees before the appropriate conditions are created. The return of Syrian refugees must be voluntary and in a safe environment.”
Mustafa warned that the Assad regime's continuing crimes against civilians might cause a fresh wave of refugees. “An assault on Idlib by the regime will lead to a new influx of refugees, which will undermine plans for the return of Syrian refugees.”
Furthermore, Mustafa expressed hope for an increased international momentum on Syria to pave the way for bringing about a comprehensive political transition, the implementation of international resolutions, and the formation of a Transitional Governing Body (TGB). He also called for ratcheting up pressure on the Assad regime to force it to engage seriously in the political process in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council Resolution 2254.
Mustafa stressed the need for international action and stricter stance against the Assad regime, especially with respect to the crimes it is committing against detainees. He also called for ensuring accountability for all war crimes, including the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons and the mass forced displacement of civilians. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Activists in Rural Damascus said that Assad forces executed military doctor Mu'taz Hteitani who was detained in one of the accommodation centers which the Assad regime set up in the Damascus suburbs to house the people who were evicted from eastern Ghouta in March. Residents of the Damascus suburb were forced to agree to resettle their status to avoid being displaced from their homes.
Hteitani existed eastern Ghouta via one of the so-called safe passages that Russia and the Assad regime offered for residents of the Damascus suburb during the military campaign the Assad regime and its allies carried out in the area. He existed eastern Ghouta along with many workers in medical, educational and relief organizations.
Activists said that Hteitani, who was a Brigadier General, was detained by Assad’s intelligence services in an accommodation center and taken to a detention center where he was executed. Assad forced executed Hteitani in spite of the pledges made by Russia and the Assad forces not to detain or cause harm to those who agreed to have their status resettled with the regime.
The Syrian Coalition earlier stressed that there will be no safe environment in Syria as long as the Assad regime survives in power and the intelligence and security services as well as the Iranian terrorist militias who have committed the most serious crimes against civilians for more than seven years.
A cardiologist surgeon with the rank of brigadier general, Hteitani announced he was defecting from the Assad regime’s army in 2013. He was born in the town of Mleiha in the Damascus suburb in 1962. He remained in eastern Ghouta following his defection and co- established a number of civilian bodies there.
Activists in eastern Ghouta pointed out that the Assad regime has recently carried out mass arrests campaign in eastern Ghouta, targeting mainly the young people with the purpose of forced recruitment. Former members of the institutions of the revolution have also been subjected to extensive investigations. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Head of the National Commission on Detainees and Missing Persons Yasser Al-Farhan called on Germany and France to form an international pressure group along with Turkey and friendly countries to urgently head to the UN Security Council in order to demand that the Assad regime release all detainees in its prisons. Farhan stressed that the Assad regime must not be allowed to commit further crimes against detainees, adding that the regime is exploiting the inaction of the international community.
During a meeting with German and French envoys to Syria on Saturday, Farhan said that the Assad regime’s issuance of death notices for detainees who died in its prisons is proof of the war crimes and crimes against humanity. He stressed the need to head to the UN Security Council as was the case with Law No. 10 to ensure the remaining detainees.
Farhan said that the Assad regime unashamedly announcing its crimes as it changed the way of informing the families of the detainees about the death of their loved ones in its detention centers. The regime has been recently instructing civil registry departments to registry thousands of detainees as dead. Farhan stressed the need to alert the United Nations to this dangerous development and urgently intervene to save the remaining detainees and hold war criminals accountable.
Moreover, Farhan stressed the need to force the Assad regime to give international organizations and observers, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, access to its detention facilities in order to ascertain the situation inside and the way detainees are being treated.
“Before they were detained, those detainees gave flowers and water bottles to regime forces who responded by attacking them during the peaceful demonstrations they used to hold. The murderous Assad regime kidnapped, forcibly disappeared, tortured, and executed peaceful demonstrators. It also refused to hand over the bodies to their families or conduct serious, transparent investigation into their deaths.”
Farhan went on to say that the Assad regime converted Syria into a large mourning place brining Syrians together through pain and loss. This has strengthened the Syrians’ determination to get rid of the Assad regime and its murder, kidnapping, and torture of its opponents.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Supreme Hajj Committee announced that the first batch of intending Syrian pilgrims arrived in the city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia coming from Hatay Airport, Turkey.
The Committee pointed out that 163 pilgrims landed in Jeddah airport on Friday. They entered the Turkish territory through Bab al-Hawa border crossing.
The Committee has been overseeing the affairs of the Syrian pilgrims for the sixth consecutive year, providing them with services and facilitations from the moment they obtain visas until they finish the hajj rites and came back home. It provides them with medical services during their stay in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
It is expected that Syria’s quota of pilgrims will increase to 18,000 this season. The Committee stressed that it provides services to all Syrians without any discrimination based on their places of residence or political affiliations.
The Syrian Coalition earlier praised the successful, fruitful and continuous cooperation between the Supreme Hajj Committee and the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Coalition, on behalf of the Syrian people, extended its thanks and appreciation for the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Saudi Government for their efforts to provide care and services for pilgrims as well as to cater for their needs in order to perform the hajj rituals smoothly and with ease.
The Committee receives applications for hajj in its offices in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and the Gulf countries. It also set up an office in Idlib in Syria’s north. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Coordination Committee of the Syrian revolution in Istanbul and the Association of Detainees and Missing Persons of Sednaya Prison called for holding a demonstration on Friday to denounce the crimes being committed by the Assad regime against detainees in its prisons. The calls came in response to the Assad regime’s recent issuance of death notices for thousands of detainees who died under torture.
The demonstration will be held under the title "Day of Rage for Victims of Torture in Assad's Prisons." Organizers of the demonstration called on Syrian activists and human rights organizations to gather in Istiklal Street in the Turkish city of Istanbul to convey the voice of the remaining detainees in Assad’s prisons and expose the Assad regime’s crimes against detainees as well as its crackdown on freedom of expression.
In recent weeks, the Assad regime has sent lists of names of thousands of detainees who died under torture in its prisons to civil registry departments in Syrian provinces.
Nadim Houry, director of Human Rights Watch's terrorism and counterterrorism program, on Thursday said: "In the last few weeks, hundreds of Syrian families learned that their loved ones who had disappeared in government detention facilities had died. Many said that they found out as they requested routine records from the Syrian administration and were stunned to find that the authorities had recently registered their relatives as dead.”
“The Syrian government should not be allowed to get away with mass disappearances and murder again,” Houry said. “Families of the disappeared have a right to know what happened to their loved ones…There also needs to be accountability for the enforced disappearances and deaths in detention.”
Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition, Bader Jamous, earlier said that the Assad regime’s issuance of death notices revealed the multitude of war crimes and crimes against humanity taking place in the Assad regime’s detention facilities.
The Assad regime is taking revenge on those who revolted against its rule, Jamous said, adding that disclosure of these crimes, which occur under the cover of darkness, has once again showed the Assad regime’s lack of seriousness about engaging with the United Nations and the implementation of international resolutions on Syria.
Jamous called on the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria to investigate these crimes along with thousands crimes the Assad regime has committed over the past few years. (Source: Syrian Coalitions’ Media Department)